Public may get first Windows 7 release candidate on May 5

The first Windows 7 release candidate could go out to the public in just over two weeks—and barely four months after the release of the first beta. As Ars Technica reports, Microsoft let slip the rollout schedule via its Microsoft Partner Program website, which apparently stated the following this weekend:

Partners: If you have a subscription to MSDN or TechNet, you can download Windows 7 RC now. Otherwise, you can download Windows 7 RC starting May 5, 2009.

Microsoft has since updated the page to remove references to the RC, and Ars says MSDN and TechNet subscribers definitely don't have the software yet. (Reportedly, only big PC vendors like Dell and Siemens have access just now.) Still, this little blunder suggests the RC is getting awfully close—and that May 5 date could be the real deal.

At this rate, it's looking like Microsoft will reach its goal of having Windows 7 on store shelves by the holiday season. In fact, a purported HP memo that leaked earlier this month says Windows 7 will be out in October.

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